Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Grammatical Concerns

Dear Grammar Police,

I want to express grave concern regarding the recent conduct and behavior of apostrophes. Lately, I’ve noticed their arrogant behavior. It is as though they believe themselves to be commas, and we cannot allow this to go unchallenged!

Anyone who has tried to teach punctuation to children can understand the inherent fear with which those small semi-circles are viewed. For example, just when children have mastered items in a series and complex sentences, the use of commas for apposition, opposition, and parentheticals is taught. It’s enough to make someone want to become an accountant—at least their commas know how to behave!

I implore you, Grammar Police, one gang of semi-circular punctuation marks swaggering and threatening is enough. But now, apostrophes, whose use in possessive nouns and contractions has been easy (okay the it’s/its thing is a bit tricky), are beginning to swagger. They’ve produced so much fear in the hearts of English writers that I’ve seen letters addressed to The Keller’s! Is it the physical home of the family that is being addressed? If so, be warned the door cannot read!

But, I suspect that these impish apostrophes have noticed their corporeal similarities to commas and are using these resemblances to intimidate writers into thinking they are difficult. I urge the grammar police to crack down on these imposters and spread the word that semi-circles above the line are harmless, easily tamed creatures and not the nasty, shiftless brutes known as commas. It is imperative that this be done soon, or it will be too late.

A Concerned Punctuationist, aka Connie

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Baseball Season

It’s baseball season. Again. Now, honestly, when I got married and discovered that my husband liked baseball I thought it was cute. After all, he played some in college, and it was nice knowing he’d been an athlete. So, we watched some games together. Yeah, it was boring. Even when he explained to me, “Look the pitcher going to throw a strike but the hitter’s not going to swing.” That seemed stupid to me—why not swing at a good pitch, isn’t that the point of baseball? I was told, “Oh, but he’s got three balls, so chances are that the pitcher’s shot and he could get a walk.” But didn’t he just say that it was going to be a strike? Then my husband explained that baseball was “a thinking man’s game.” Oh, right, silly me.

And though this should have been a sign to me, I ignored it. A few years passed, and we had three sons. Once again, it was all very cute to see them with their little bats, balls, and gloves. Then, Little League began. And our three boys all played on different teams. So, that meant two games per week per boy, not to mention all the practices. Of course, there were also the issues of keeping track of uniforms, mitts, batting gloves, cleats, and cups (when the youngest was little he once used his brother’s cup as a boat for his playmobile characters, but that’s another story). Oh, and did I mention that we lived in New England where there’s still snow on the fields in April and you had to bring your parka and gloves even at the end of May, just in case. But, I persevered through that and patted myself on the back—I was a good mother. Then one year, my oldest wanted to make extra money. What a great idea, I thought. But the catch? Well, he wasn’t sixteen yet and there weren’t a lot of jobs he could do, except…umpiring. In case you aren’t aware of it, umpiring is a job where people pay you money to wear a lot of expensive pads, throw balls at you, and yell at you for fun. My role is this? To sit quietly in the stands as wild pitchers whomped my son in the chest and thighs while parents, coaches, and interested bystanders screamed at him like raving lunatics. But they’re not the only lunatics—my son thinks this is fun.

So, I had eight games a week (six the boys played in and two the oldest umped). Thankfully, they didn’t play on Saturday—a day to catch up on the housework/schoolwork/laundry that hadn’t gotten done. Or on Sunday, a day to rest. But that did mean eight games and incalculable practices in five days all at different times, at different fields on opposite sides of town. As you can imagine, the days were now scheduled with the meticulous organization of tactical military movements.

This year is slightly better, only two boys are playing and the oldest isn’t umpiring, at least he hasn’t mentioned it yet. But he did make the high school team. I just found out that they practice three hours, three times a week, not to mention games… And so, I’ve discovered that baseball is not a game and it is not a sport. It is a disease. But, I’m hoping that a vaccine is discovered soon, even though it’s too late for us. So I’ll see ya at the field. I’ll be the one in jeans, ponytail, and baseball cap. If you don’t spot me, look for the woman with glazed eyes, rooting for her kids and commenting about the eyesight of the umpire. That’s me.